Tuesday, July 15, 2014

833TH POST: THE 833

Sorry--Did I say the 832 was a mess?


Provo College.  Provo LDS Temple I.  Provo LDS Temple II. 7th East. 9th East. The Provo FrontRunner Station.  The Orem FrontRunner Station.  The Timpanogos Transit Center.  Raintree.  Wyview.  7 Peaks. BYU. The 833 has, at one time or another, gone to all these places.  And it has, at one time or another, not gone to each of them.

(Airport?)

Even when BYU was a thing, and the 833 went to BYU, it sat rather oddly among its busier counterparts.  There were only a couple of times of day when the 833 was anything approximating full, and even then it didn't have a patch on the 832's crowd of screaming freshmen (Fairness requires the observation that for a short time the 833 did run past 7 Peaks, according to the old map in the basement of the house I used to live in, and ran for several years past Raintree and Wyview directly, though UTA wisely put both these areas on the more frequent, later-running 832, which is most of what caused the 832 to be such a crazy ride).  Back when I used to catch the last 833 home from the temple at 7:58 p.m., I would be surprised to find more than about 3 people on it--I was, occasionally, surprised, but not too often.

When FrontRunner South happened, most of the places people actually took the 833 went to the 832 (and have stayed there, in one form or another), and the new 833 was basically the part of the old 833 nobody took.  Which, I suppose, is why nobody seems to take the 833 these days.  I haven't taken it, and I can't honestly say I've seen anybody on it when it pulls out of Provo Station (though I haven't looked super closely; there were probably a couple of people sitting in the back that I couldn't see).

We'll have to see if the proposed addition of the Provo Airport to the route will attract a few more people (more likely it will be UVU students going to the fire academy building-whatever over there than actual people taking the bus out to the airport, for now).  The fact that the route has already changed several times since 2012 suggests that it is hovering perilously near extinction--but all I'll say for now is, we'll have to see.

7 comments:

  1. August 2014. Hmmmm...

    Ɂ Looks like the 9 won't run along 1300 East after all. Probably for the best, as we already have the 213, 220, and 223 on that stretch.
    Ɂ But comparing the old schedules for the 9 and 17 to the new ones is so refreshing. We are finally moving steadily in the right direction, albeit slowly.
    Ɂ Bless UTA's heart for wishing to accommodate those visiting the jail along the 35, but as far as I can tell no Sunday schedule change has actually taken place.
    Ɂ So the nail is in the coffin for UTA's brief experiment in route overlays. The 217/218, the 45/228... I think the latter in particular was a good idea on paper, but didn't do so well in implementation. If the average person was looking at the 45 schedule online or in paper form, he would have literally nothing telling him that the 228 combines to provide 15-minute service in the peak.
    Ɂ After two consecutive changes of reducing time on the 217's schedule (including two weeks after December change day), UTA's reconsidered and added time back on. What a saga.
    Ɂ I must say I am utterly nonplussed regarding what's happened with the 218 west-/northbound schedule. They've added departure and arrival timepoints for South Jordan Station, but it totally favors the wrong people. Those going to Riverfront Parkway from FrontRunner now have an absolute nailbiter of a transfer, which is lame to say the least. Seriously, what is UTA thinking?
    Ɂ Hey! The 821 with hourly Saturday service. Who would have thought?
    Ɂ The 832/835 situation is, hmm. . . I'm not sure. The idea of fifteen-minute service on a route other than the 830 is welcome, to be sure. The idea of (relatively) late-night service on something other than the 830 is great. The thought of providing a level of service comparable to the free-transit-pass days is commendable. But I find it utterly fascinating that UTA is even bothering considering the state of transit at BYU. Call me cynical, but I don't see this realignment of service being wildly successful. The 835 especially seems a tad ripe for disappointment considering it only goes to student housing and nothing else (like University Mall, for example). But I don't know. You have a better grip of the situation in Provo much better than I do, so I'm interested to hear your assessment.
    Ɂ Calling it right now. After a few change days the 833 will give up the ghost. It doesn't seem like the best recipe for success. . . I don't have high hopes for the 836, either.
    Ɂ The 840, 841, and 862: "The new UVU campus shuttle. Altogether make 10 to 15 minute frequency." Fancy.

    And, yes, those are glottal stops.

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    1. Oh, change day . . .

      The 9's new route is very interesting. I guess the stop on South Campus was too important to let go (though it won't be the same stop, but whatever. If people need the current stop that bad, they can ride the 17 back around. Though that would certainly take forever.) Even just the 9 routing might be pretty slow through campus like that, though I suppose it won't be any worse than the 228's route through South Campus and Research Park, which does, actually, empirically, take forever.

      It is exciting, as you say, that we are zombie lurching toward the perfect bus system. Now that I think about it, the increase on routes 9 and 17 is even bigger than it looks, since both routes are also being lengthened, in addition to the frequency being increased. I guess this is how we will see bus service increase--inch by inch, unglamorously--until some version of referendum gets passed, whenever that happens. But "big bus opening" just isn't as cool as "big train opening," no matter how useful for those of us who don't just use transit to get to work and back.

      While we're on the subject, let me just rhapsodize for a second about how long it took me to scroll through the 45's new schedule. It was delightful. We moved to Salt Lake right after the overlay on 45th south went into place. It is absolutely true that the overlay was confusing to people trying to catch the bus on 45th South. I once watched a 228 go by a bus stop at 23rd East or so, and nobody got on because they were waiting for a 45 that wasn't coming. Now, of course, it's a bit confusing that all the 228 signs are gone already, but it is fun to see the green 45 signs back. Just like old times. Old times being 2007-2011.

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    2. The 45/228 overlay did definitely seem like a good idea on paper. I remember when I saw it for the first time, I said, "Huh," in a good way. "That's kind of cool." But it rarely worked out like it was supposed to. I think a large part of that was that the 228 is so much longer than the 45. Especially before the schedules got adjusted in 2012 and 2013, the 228 was always late coming down Foothill from the U, which caused it to run into the 45 (not literally, Trib reporters that read my blog . . .) and the two buses would go down the street practically on top of each other during rush hour (again, not literally). That and the fact that the buses were 15 minutes, then 45 minutes apart during the middle of the day made the schedule hard to remember and hard to use. It will be interesting to see if people latch onto the 15-minute service in the middle of the day right away or if those trips run empty for a while before people decide they can use the bus on 45th again. It's possible--the 39 is often busier during midday than during rush hour. I used to wonder why the 39 ran at all because whenever I caught it there were only a handful of people on it. Until one day I was waiting for the 39 at about 2 p.m. and it came 14 minutes late and absolutely replete with people. I graciously revised my low opinion of the 39 forever. Will that happen to the 45 as well? Eventually, I think. Perhaps not immediately.

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    3. Trying to get a bus to connect with trains in both directions has never worked well for UTA (case in point: the 842 at Orem, which has a 12-minute transfer in one direction and a 11-minute transfer in the other, which would explain why the one time I have ridden it in my life there were only five people on it, at 5:46 p.m., when I would have expected at least ten; the bus also has zero layover at Orem station, which means that the bus driver either doesn't get to use the bathroom or gets behind schedule from doing so, neither of which makes for a very happy bus driver. Whether the 218 transfer will work or not, I don't know. Perhaps the bus will wait for the train if it's late. But who am I kidding?

      Braaaaaains . . . braaaaaaains . . . more zombie steps on the 821 and 862. UTA first put Utah County routes on 90- and 120-minute headways in 2009, and I have been griping about it ever since. Something else to cheer about! I may actually be able to use the 821 on Saturdays now (when FrontRunner was on 90-minute headways and the 821 on 120-minute headways, there were like, two times of day when they even matched up. Forget it.) Now, what are we going to do about the 223?

      Here's what I know about the 832/835 (also why I have abstained from using creative bullets up to this point):

      - The 835 will combine the old 832 stop on 7 Peaks Blvd with the old 831 stop in front of Gold's Gym, which would have been enough to completely overwhelm a single bus back when BYU was a thing. As it is, it might fill a bus or two.
      - The other two big markets on these routes are Old Mill/Carriage Cove and Wyview. With the 835 and 831 both serving Old Mill/Carriage Cove, there is the potential for some decent service to maybe increase the BYU following a bit. However, the 831 and 835 service those stops in opposite directions, which will probably just confuse people and move them onto one route or the other. My guess is that most people catching the 831 through there will be heading to UVU and back.
      - The 832 will connect Wyview with BYU via the Temple, which actually doesn't take much longer than the old 832 route on Freedom and Bulldog, but it feels like it takes much longer. People were more willing to cram onto a crazy 832 back in the day than take a relaxed 833, because the perception was that the 832 would get you there much faster. But now there's not the "old 832" option, so people may be more willing to go via the temple.
      - What looks like a decent route proposal will be hampered by the lack of a decent BYU stop and discounted pass. While the new routes will almost certainly attract more people than the current, extremely convoluted 832, I don't see any hope of filling buses like they were pre-2011 in that area. I remain the eternal transit optimist, but this actually IS me being optimistic here.
      - Did you notice, though, that the 832 is going to go down 9th East along with the 830? Prepare for the apocalypse . . .

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    4. The 833. The 836. What are we going to do with them? I would like to think they could be combined into a flex route that just does a loop (like what was proposed for this year), but I don't know if it would work as presently constituted, since both the 833 and 836 are scheduled 26 minutes to do their out-and-back thing--that wouldn't be enough time for any deviations on a flex route. It appears from the schedules that the 833 and 836 will be run by just one bus, that sometimes waits for a half-hour instead of four minutes; this creates some 90-minute headways (boo), but bus drivers have to go to the bathroom too, sometimes! Maybe a flex route could do that as well (wait for thirty extra minutes, not go to the bathroom). That does mess with transfers when FrontRunner is on hour headways, not that very many people will probably need to transfer from FrontRunner to these routes, though if the Airport ends up being the catalyst for full 833's I'll certainly be as happy as anybody. For the record, I'm not holding my breath.

      The new UVU shuttle. Fancy! Certainly fancier than the crapheaps that currently run around UVU campus, pictures of smiling students on the side notwithstanding. You might even say . . . flousy.

      That's more than enough for one night. Cheers!

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  2. As for the 9, this is what one guy had to say about a lack of service to the intersection of Greenwood Terrace and 1500 East: "...4-6 people get on the 9 between 13th and 15th east on the bus that I take in the morning. If I'm on the next later bus at 7:55 20 kids get dropped off by their folks to ride the bus down to the hill to 200 East to the charter school. Not even exaggerating the 23 ft. short bus on the line is standing room only. Add in the vets that use the 9 to get to the VA hospital this change is affecting a lot of riders." So take that for what it's worth. The 9 will take a long time around the U, but I think people will appreciate having a direct line to more stops on campus than having to wait for a campus shuttle or, the horror, walking ten minutes.

    If UTA does net that oh-so-coveted transit tax referendum, I think it would have a fantastic opportunity to market a "big bus opening"-sort of thing. A grand restoration of service that comes on line all of a sudden is a prime opportunity to market the daylight out of it. I can see it now: masterful commercials shot by hipsters that encapsulates the beauty of a bus system that runs until 1 in the morning. Maybe I'm just waxing sentimental.

    (Speaking of the perfect bus system, I thought you'd be interested in this website if you haven't heard of it already. I spent some time creating a decent system that's somewhat realistic and heavily favors Salt Lake City proper in recognition of its conduciveness to transit usage. Anyway.)

    The main issue the 45 will have in garnering decent ridership is its routing through the ever so transit averse Holladay. But if the 9 can attract up to six people from Harvard/Yale during rush hour (in actuality this is really depressing), anything can happen.

    The frustrating thing about the 218 is that FrontRunner calls at South Jordan Station at the same time in both directions. It's a rare and golden opportunity. So there's really no excuse whatsoever to make a decent transfer out of that. If trains in both directions come through at the hour and half-past, Newton's law of train-bus transfers dictates that the 218 should depart at :05 and :35. Easy as that. Bonne chance, UTA.

    Don't remind me about the 223. . . I can see the little ridership it does have being halved by the 228 running down 2300 East. The 223 still deserves to be saved. Canyon Rim, Highland Park, and Wasatch Hollows deserve some decent transit service. They really do. Perhaps the best course of action would be to have the 223 terminate at the park-and-ride on Wasatch via 3900 South and forget about service to Holladay Boulevard.

    I've since gathered that the 832 and 835 will run in a sort of continuous loop. So when the 835 arrives at its EOL at 1720 North, it seems it'll seamlessly change to an 832 and continue onward toward the temple without holding for time (assuming it isn't early). And vice versa. That's smart. What the success of the 832/835 counts on is, ultimately, marketing. If UTA can outmarket the Ryde, people might genuinely go for it. I do still wish the 832 would continue a few blocks south and terminate at FrontRunner, though.

    You may have chronicled this already, but isn't it maddening that BYU replaced the road through the Wilk with a roundabout? One that seems could very easily accommodate a bus, but instead is only used for cars. Great. I await the day when the powers that be decide that having UTA buses run so close to the Wilk won't ruin the social fabric of BYU.

    And when the world reflects back and wonders why Putin all of a sudden became mercurial and why the situation in Gaza flared up around this time, only you and I will know the real reason: the utterly immoral choice to run not one, but two routes on 9th East. Can't wait for the latest Christian Nielson op-ed.

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    1. So I clicked on your transitmix link and disappeared from society for about three days . . . sorry, everybody. I put down my idea of having the 830 and 832 both connect with Provo and Orem stations on map 29276. Map 28096 is my conception of a Salt Lake County system where the minimum frequency on any weekday route is 15 minutes. I don't know if you'll like it; it's rather more . . . severe than yours. But of course I have many ideas, some of which directly contradict each other. This is only one of them.

      Having lived for quite a while on one of the little bends in the 831, I can appreciate people not wanting the 9 to go down 13th East. I guess they can sort it out with people coming from Liberty Park as to whether speed or coverage is better. Or maybe everyone else just isn't as passionate about that sort of thing as I am. Oh, well . . .

      I interpret the 218 schedule at South Jordan station as trying to transfer from both directions to both directions--that is, if the bus arrives 5 minutes after the train heading toward River Park, the River Park people will be happy, but anyone coming from the mall will have to wait 25 minutes for the next train in both directions. Same in the other direction--one could argue that River Park is the bigger draw, and so should have the better transfer, but good luck on ever getting any ridership to the mall from FrontRunner if the transfer is always 25 minutes. So UTA appears to be trying to have the best of both worlds by having the buses arrive early, wait, then leave after the trains do. I just pray (and believe me, I do pray about things like this) the bus will wait for the train if the train is more than about ten seconds behind schedule. A one-minute transfer is no transfer at all when FrontRunner South is involved.

      At this point, I'm willing to accept the complete evaporation of any transit service whatsoever on Holladay Blvd. in favor of more frequent service on the 223 north of 2100 South. I do think there is some untapped potential there. With all the Utah county routes running at least every 60 minutes on Saturdays come August, I'm hopeful that some kind of change is in store for the 223. Whether that's cancellation or rehabilitation is anybody's guess. We'll have to wait until three days after change day when the next public hearing notices are posted, snark snark.

      The Ryde sucks. I hope the 832/835 blows it out of the water. It would help if BYU would let the bus stop at that blessed roundabout. The first time I saw that roundabout, I thought to myself, "BYU has built a bus stop, and they don't even know it yet." Who knows? BYU has a new president. Perhaps he can offer a few petulant administrators "early retirement" (double meaning absolutely intended).

      Given that Provo-Orem BRT was on the books for over a decade before our dear friend CN noticed the project's existence, I'm not too worried he'll notice that the 832 will be joining the 830 on 9th East--but if he does, and if he writes another op-ed, many eyes will be on this blog to deliver another scathing rebuke. It's a lot of pressure, but I will deliver if I must--and I won't be nearly so polite the second time.

      Ah, screw it. Let's run the 223 every 15 minutes AND have it stop at the roundabout at the Wilk. That'll show 'em.

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